Day 1. Celebration

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Day One.


So hard to be still

When all i want is to check

Stillness off the list


One year ago today I sat down, much like I am today, and wrote those same two words: day one. I usually spend the first day of any new year thinking about all the things I want to accomplish, the ways I want to improve. In my 20s I made a list so ambitious it included daily meditation, learning French and giving a toast at my best friend’s wedding (you know, because I would definitely be able to match her with her soul mate in the new year). 

This year I’ve got a million goals dancing around in my head, and sure, I’ll probably put pen to paper on some of them. But this year feels different. Celebratory. Instead of thinking of all the things I need or want to accomplish I’m thinking about how far I’ve come. And I don’t mean with painting or business or running a half marathon. 

I mean with my relationships. My endurance. My resilience. My ability to see the good in others, and to get along with those with whom I might disagree. And most of all, my ability to reframe a situation or circumstance, to see failure as a friend, rejection as opportunity. In none of these things have I been perfect, but I can see growth and it is worth celebrating. 

This 31 in 31, I plan to celebrate partly through poetry and not just the daily haikus that will probably start each day. But the haikus are helping me form a practice. They’re helping me get my feet wet. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned, one of those little celebratory ah-ha!’s I’m enjoying is this: To be good at anything, one has to first be willing to do it poorly. Baby tigers stumble before they run. Musicians play the wrong notes on the path to harmony. Joe Burrow occasionally throws an interception.  I’m willing to write some bad poems this month knowing they are mighty powerful. 

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know of my love affair with birds. But I’m starting these 31 days not with a painting of bird formed with gobs of oil paint applied with a knife. I’m starting these 31 days with a gently rendered watercolor tiger. We will call her my spirit animal for the month. Strength and gentleness– a beautiful power. Bold, but not gaudy or self aggrandizing. 

All the paintings from the month will be available on my site the first week of February. I’m going to celebrate painting this month and handle the business part of it when it’s over.

Water always reminds me to let go of control, to let myself be surprised. As someone who wants to constantly check things off a list, I’m starting off the month with water, heeding it’s quiet lessons. I know I will turn to my trusty oils and, of course, a bird or two, as the month progresses. But for today? I am celebrating this painting. This day. This first step. 

What in your life is worth celebrating?

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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

January 1, 2020

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